It was the middle of the night and I was sitting quietly in my office, catching up on my paperwork. After the battle, I’d been unable to sleep and going home didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Potentially waking Winterspear up and explaining what I was doing coming home so late seemed like a bad idea. If I didn’t show up, she’d just assume I was at Crystal’s place. If I didn’t show up there, Crystal would assume I was at work.
When did misleading ponies become so easy?
The handle of my office door jiggled and then turned before Princess Luna stuck her head in. “You are here. Mountain Stone mentioned he saw you heading to your office. You’re up awfully late, Silent Knight.”
I rose immediately and replied, “As are you, Princess.”
She smiled. “I am the Alicorn of the Night.”
“And I am the commander of her Guard. Is everything alright?”
Princess Luna nodded. “All is well. I couldn’t sleep and was curious why you were here. Why are you here?”
“I’m in the same situation. I was working on a project really late and my mind is spun up. I’ll sleep tomorrow. Would you care to sit?” I asked, motioning to the small couch that sat against the wall opposite the door.
The princess nodded and did so. “What project? I don’t recall seeing anything on your docket. I certainly haven’t asked for anything. Although, on that topic, I will want to return to Haven soon.”
I came around my desk and settled next to the princess. I took my helmet off and set it aside. “It was this whole crazy thing I’ve been working on for about a year. I believe it helped improve your security. Still, it’s been busy, but I think I’m done with it now. I’m ready to get back to the day to day.”
Princess Luna looked at me curiously for a while without comment. It seemed as if she was inspecting my face or perhaps my eyes. It was hard to say, but I kept silent. When I was not forthcoming with anything additional, she shrugged. “You have not given me a date for your wedding shower.”
“That is true,” I said softly as I brushed my hoof along the arm of the couch.
The alicorn’s wing looped around me and pushed my chin up. “Is something the matter?”
“I don’t know… some ponies got into my head. The prevailing thought is that soldiers can’t really have normal lives. Then I talked to Crystal’s father. I was thinking that I might not be right for Crystal.”
The princess’s breath caught and she shook her head. “You’re just having cold hooves.”
My head shook. “No, that isn’t it. I know she’s right for me. I don’t have any question about that. It’s the other way around that concerns me. I don’t think she understands what it means to be married to a royal guard. How do I pick between being a royal guard and a husband?”
“Why do you believe you have to choose?”
“I want to be fair to Crystal. She really loves me but I’m not always thinking about her. If somepony tried to hurt you, I’d get in the way without thinking about her. If you were tied to a train track and the only way to save you was to throw myself in front of the train to stop it, I would. The oath comes first.”
Princess Luna shook her head. She softly stroked my cheek with her hoof. “Why do you think I was so insistent that you become the commander of my Guard? Without a doubt, you are quite qualified, but when you almost died, it was nearly too much for me to bear. I wanted you in a safer position.”
What was she talking about? She’d insisted I received my position? No. I’d earned it. Right?
My nostrils flared as the realization set in. Of course I hadn’t. Knights were just grunts. I should have suspected she’d been behind my commission.
I pushed her hoof from my cheek. “Why?”
The princess froze in place. “I’m sorry, Silent Knight. I should have told you sooner. Back when you were hurt, I made it clear to Shining Armor that I didn’t want you directly in harm’s way any longer. He said you’d never stand for it. We argued. He insisted. We finally compromised on sending you to the officer’s academy.”
“You—You recommended me for this so that I wouldn’t get hurt again?” I asked as emotions swirled inside me. It was a mix of confusion and sorrow. Anger, rage, and bitterness.
“Yes, I did! He didn’t, though,” she hurriedly continued. “He assured me you’d be safer, but also that you were the right pony for the job.”
Slowly, I stood from the couch. “I’m not sure if I should be furious or touched.”
I really wasn’t sure. Before, I’d only doubted if I was right for Crystal. Now I wasn’t sure if I was actually right for this job, something I’d never even considered before. Russet had been passed over because of me. He’d lost because the princess didn’t want to see me injured again. Was I good for anything after all?
Princess Luna stood. “I would be far happier if you were touched, but I’ll understand if you’re angry. We should have told you the whole truth, but I knew you’d refuse. That is why I sent Shining Armor.
“Don’t blame him. Blame me. He did as he was ordered but make no mistake, we did not interfere in the academy. You did that all on your own. Just as you’ve led this unit all on your own. You are the commander and you will be a good husband to Crystal Wishes.”
I slipped my helmet on. It cooled the burning in my chest just enough so I could speak. “Yes, Princess,” I said softly. “Would you mind excusing me? I am touched that you care so much about my well-being. So much so that I know I’d later regret saying anything rash now.”
She reached a hoof towards me but then quickly nodded. “Yes, of course.”
I left my office and slipped down the hall, barely noticing as the various guards snapped to attention at my passing. When I reached the small gym in the basement, I tore my helmet off and hurled it against one of the heavy bags.
Work hard, earn everything yourself. Nopony will give it to you. That’s what Dad had said. I guess he was wrong about that, too.
My anger finally subsided after a solid two hours of working out, allowing me to arrive at Crystal’s condo right before lunch. I knocked three times and mulled over the questions that still lingered in the back of my mind.
So, the princess was trying to protect me as much as I was trying to protect her. Unfortunately, that was never going to work. A VIP can’t be worried about her bodyguards. That could cause them to make poor decisions in a moment of crisis. It clouded their judgment. I didn’t know what to do about it. One problem at a time, though.
The door opened and Crystal peered at me. “You’re early. I wasn’t expecting that.” She stepped out of the way.
“Occasionally I’ll get it right,” I replied as I walked in.
“You’re lucky I was already cooking.” Her voice was laced with irritation that she was doing a poor job of hiding. “I hope you’re hungry.”
I nodded and took my helmet off. Crystal gasped when I did.
“What?” I asked.
“What? What!” she exclaimed. Her magic encircled a small hoof mirror and levitated it over.
My cheek was a little black under my coat and the bottom of the eye above it was slightly swollen. I hadn’t noticed. I doubted most ponies would, but of course Crystal would.
Lightly, I touched it. It didn’t really hurt. “I got hit last night. I had a helmet on and didn’t notice.”
“You got hit?” Now, her voice was full of concern. I almost preferred the irritation. That, I at least deserved. “Who hit you?”
I looked at her and she rolled her eyes.
“Classified, right. Sit down. Do you have any other injuries I should worry about?” she asked as she went to the kitchen.
I regretted preferring irritation as I settled at the table. She seemed more miffed than usual, but that wasn’t surprising. I missed her birthday for reasons she’d never understand, and I never wanted her to. “To the best of my knowledge, no.” It was dumb, but just in case there was something else involved, I asked, “Is everything alright?”
“Yes!” she replied as she came back, two plates held in her magic. “I just don’t like you getting hurt.”
“I’m not really hurt, it is just a bruise. What is for lunch?”
The plate landed heavily in front of me. Today, I was being treated to shell noodles and broccoli. Not my favorite, but certainly high up on the list. “This looks great.”
“Thank you.” She sat down across from me.
“So…” I started. She still seemed angry. Change of subject time.
I asked the first thing that came to mind. “Were you aware that Princess Luna sent me to the officer’s academy so that it was less likely that I would get hurt?”
Crystal blinked and the anger she was harboring seemed to ease again. “I was not. Who told you that?”
“She did. Evidently, she was very upset by me being injured and wanted to remove me a step from having to directly protect her. She convinced Shining Armor to go along with it.”
Crystal swallowed and looked down at her food. “You… You don’t look as upset as I imagine you’d be.”
My jaw tightened instead of allowing the self-deprecating smile I wanted to give. “The heavy bag in the gym would probably disagree. I didn’t want to miss your birthday and then show up angry the next day.” The smile made its way through. Barely. “I’m really trying here.”
She nodded and lightly forked at her food. “I’m sorry, honey.”
“Yeah… so I’m thinking about turning that job offer down.”
Crystal looked up. “Why? It was a good offer, wasn’t it?”
“A very good one. Possibly too good to be true. Perhaps he feels bad for having gone along with the princess. I don’t know. Not to mention I’d have to uproot you and leave all of our friends. It doesn’t seem like the time is right.”
The mare set her fork down and looked over at me. “Why don’t you… I mean… Before you make a decision. Before you decide… just let this sit first. You’ve been on edge lately and this is probably making it worse. Shining Armor can wait a little longer. I don’t want you to have any regrets.”
“That is good advice,” I replied before poking at my food. Then I pushed the plate away. “I’m sorry. Now I’ve ruined your birthday twice with my job.” I shook my head and chuckled as I realized why this all felt so similar.
This was the life my mother, sister, and I had lived. “It turns out I’m just like him anyway.” The words elicited anger as they passed my lips. Rage bubbled up in me and threatened to spill out again.
“I didn’t know him… but I don’t think so,” Crystal said softly. “I don’t think he was the kind of pony to do all the nice things you do. Yes, your job tends to keep you wrapped up, but I don’t feel less loved.”
We’d see how she felt after I missed the next birthday and the next and the next. When I wasn’t there when she needed me, or when I was in the hospital again.
Provided the princess ever let me get near danger. After all, I was apparently just a kept little stallion.
I stood and said, “I should go. I should definitely go. I’ve got to go look in on a pony that was hurt. May I come see you tonight?”
Crystal looked at me curiously and then nodded. “Of course.”
“Great, see you then,” I said before hurrying out of her condo. When I was in the street, I threw my wings out and leapt into the air.
My flight over to Canterlot Memorial Hospital was a quick one. I’d put as much anger into the motions as possible, trying to wear myself out. When I dropped down in front of the building, Tranquil Dusk pacing outside the entrance. She was attracting a lot of attention, too, since most ponies still hadn’t seen a nox pony before. Nor should they have.
“Tranquil, is everything alright with Crimson?” I called before gently taking her by the hoof and pulling her to the side of the door.
Tranquil followed along and, when stopped, she looked at me. It was as if she hadn’t noticed who I was at first. “He’s fine. They said he’d heal completely. He seems fine. Like nothing happened. I’m not fine. Things happened, Silent Knight. So many things happened. He’s fine. I’m not fine.”
Soldiering was not for everypony, and it was all too clear to me now I’d been a fool for not stopping the whole operation just to keep Tranquil and Crimson safe. This was my mistake and now I had to do what I could to help.
“You’re right, things did happen. Let’s get you taken care of, alright? Come with me?”
“We’re going to get help? I need help.” Hope and desperation were in her voice.
“We are. Stick close,” I said, forcing confidence into my voice. A confidence I didn’t feel. The only difference between me and Tranquil was that I knew how to bury the feelings she was expressing.
Together, we flew to the Canterlot Temple Grounds. Tranquil remained so close our wing tips practically touched. As we landed outside the gates, she marveled at the architecture, her woes momentarily forgotten. “This is the walled garden. The one we could not follow you into.”
“It is,” I replied, turning to see that the large red doors were already cracked open. Exemplar Ferrel stood in the gap, watching us.
“Exemplar, I see you were expecting us,” I said flatly. Her actions rarely surprised me anymore.
“At least one of you,” she replied.
Today was not the day to figure out her cryptic messages. I didn’t have the patience and I didn’t like the look the mare was giving me. “This is Tranquil Dusk. She is in need of your help.”
Tranquil stepped forwards and said, “If you please, ma’am. I recognize you from when you came to Haven. You’re a scion.”
The exemplar slightly inclined her head. “So those of your town call me. Here, I am Exemplar Ferrel and it is my duty to help any pony that seeks it. You need only be willing. Please, come inside.”
Tranquil Dusk looked back at me a moment and I just nodded. Without another word, she walked through the gates and into the garden.
When I turned to leave, the exemplar’s voice drifted after me. “Are you not coming too, Silent Knight?”
My hooves froze, but I didn’t turn around. “Me?”
“Of course. You need help too, do you not? You carry the pain of those lost and those that might yet be injured.” The words were plain and without judgment, but they still stung. “You doubt yourself and your place. Your wounds are many and the salve you seek is inside.”
“Our last conversation was tense, Exemplar. I don’t wish to further burden you. Help Tranquil, that’s all I ask.”
“Was it?” she asked before sighing softly. “It wasn’t what you hoped for, was it?”
The words rang familiar. My breath caught and a chill ran through my core. “What did you say?”
“You’ve completed your mission. You’ve reached what you thought was the end of your path. The nox ponies helped you. And, yet, the path stretches on further into the horizon, does it not? From this point on it will only be harder to go it alone.”
She’d lied to me back in Haven. Her little proclamation. Her special knowledge. Her talent.
“I thought you weren’t aware you said those things,” I practically growled.
“I wasn’t. Now I am. The nature of my talent has been changing since you came into my life and placed me in proximity to these important events. It is because of you I was in the presence of the Alicorn of the Night. It was because of you I journeyed to Haven and met the Scion of the Night. It was because of you I discovered the nox pony scroll that carried most enlightening secrets.” Her voice twisted into one of sincere confusion. “Can’t you see what you’ve done?”
I shook my head and finally turned to look at her. Her face was as impassive as always, but her eyes looking not through me. She was looking directly at me.
“The path is so much longer still. I told you before, you aren’t ready for the real trial yet. Why don’t you come inside, Silent Knight? Allow me to help prepare you. Allow me to share the burden. The board is being set and the sisters will need all of their pieces if they are to prevail.”
Pieces? How appropriate. I felt like a pawn lately rather than the knight I’d always thought I was.
“No. No, thank you… and… I want you to stay away from me.” I took two steps back. I didn’t want to hear this today, or any day. Destiny, paths, premonitions. It was all superstitious nonsense. “Please. Just help Tranquil. She deserves it. She is a good pony.”
Her eyes glazed over, but her expression otherwise remained the same. “If that is your wish.”
“It is. Goodbye, Exemplar,” I said before leaping into the air.
She called after me, “Until next time.”
In the past, I’d found her quirkiness somewhat endearing, even when it was frightening. Now it just made me feel worse. She knew things she shouldn’t. As if she could tell me what was going on. As if she knew! She didn’t know anything.
I flew up into the clouds and found a heavy one floating by. It served as a great place to hide, which I planned to do for a little while.
When the anger finally subsided, I realized there was something important I still needed to do. Thankfully, I wasn’t far from Cloudsdale. I can’t explain how pegasi know where it is since it drifts over Equestria, but all I had to do was fly and I just knew.
Cloudsdale had always been a little isolated from the rest of Equestria. Pegasi could visit any unicorn or earth pony town, but it was extremely difficult for them to visit us. That was likely the reason our kind built it so many generations ago. There was safety by being on the high ground and above the concerns of those below.
I wandered through the familiar cloud city, looking at all of the notable landmarks. The arena, the rainbow factory, the weather station, the royal guard campus, the open-air market, and all of the other staples of pegasi life.
My visit wasn’t really about sightseeing or ruminating on pegasi culture, though. I’d returned to keep my promise to my mother… I just wasn’t ready to face her. Keeping my composure had been increasingly difficult today.
Little things had been setting me off for a while now, but I thought getting rid of Alastair was supposed to stop that. I thought getting rid of his shadow would get rid of the darkness. Yet there was still anger in my head and heart. Why?
Eventually, my hooves took me to my mom’s house. I’d have said my parents’ house, but nothing about it was the same anymore. Not that I minded. Sometimes change was a positive thing.
Mom was out front, her back to me, while she was fussing with small planter boxes that rested on the clouds that made up our yard.
“I didn’t realize you gardened,” I called from the street.
My mother stopped what she was doing and turned towards me. She smiled brighter than I’ve ever seen. To be honest it was nice but also somewhat frightening. “Your Crystal Wishes suggested I find hobbies. I’m trying gardening. I’ve managed to kill every zucchini, squash, tomato, onion, and flower so far.”
“We can’t all be good at everything,” I replied.
She dusted her hooves off and walked over to hug me. “I think the only thing I’m good at thus far is reading those romance novels your little mare writes.”
I hugged her back and chuckled. “Well, I’m sure you’ll find something soon.”
“Perhaps… so it’s done?”
“Anything else on the horizon?”
“No, ma’am. It’s done and over. Time to get back to being a regular guard.”
She nodded and kissed my cheek. “It is better that way. I won’t have to worry as much.”
“Yeah,” I said softly. Protect the stallion from the world. I pushed the thought away and squeezed her. There was another reason I’d come to visit, though. I needed a few answers. “Mom, can we talk about Dad for a minute?”
It was hard not to notice her go a bit rigid. She softly breathed out. “I suppose so. What about him?”
“You told me once that when he got back from the war, he wasn’t the same.”
“I’m…” I felt my wings tremble before the rest of me started to follow suit. “Mom, I’m scared that I’m going to turn out like him. I’m starting to have a temper like he did… and I struggle to focus on things other than my work. I don’t want to be him. I don’t want to do to Crystal what he did to you, but I don’t understand how to avoid it.”
My mother’s hoof found my chin and she tipped my head down to force me to look into her eyes. “Silent Knight, you are not your father. You’re never going to be like him, either… temper or not. I know you’re strong, but don’t think I can’t see you’re sensitive under there.”
“You say that, but can you really know? I’ve never gotten angry like this in the past. I’m worried I’m going to ruin my career or my relationship. Maybe both.”
She shook her head. “You won’t. Silent Knight, as much as I am pained to admit this, you were made for this job. Your father didn’t put that cutie mark on your flank. You’ll sort this out and your career will be fine. And that little mare is so committed to you. She’ll understand. You just need to find a way to cope.” Her eyes narrowed, just slightly. “A healthy way.”
Committed. Why did that word keep coming up? Why did she have to use it?
“How?” I asked.
She shook her head. “I don’t know, Son. I’m sorry that I don’t. Stratus never talked about it with me. He just dealt with it in his own way, which I think we can agree was the wrong way. You’ll have to find your own method or the right ponies to help you. The Royal Guard has grief counselors. I’ve been seeing one.”
“What?” I asked, a bit too much surprise in my voice. Mother looked ashamed and I quickly added, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.”
She gave me a soft smile. “It’s okay. When Stratus died, the Veterans Affairs ponies came to me. I told them to go away at first, but they were persistent. They said it was part of their process. It isn’t so bad. I go once a month to talk to a pony. Perhaps you can look into something like that at Canterlot.”
“Maybe,” I replied. Maybe not, too. Probably not. Okay, definitely not. “Well… I can’t stay long but, assuming you haven’t stopped shopping in the hopes you’d be able to grow your own food, I could eat.”
My mother eyed me. I wasn’t sure if she was going to let me get away this time. Finally, she nodded. “I have some things. Why don’t you go inside?” Her ear flicked. “Don’t let me forget that I packed a box for you. Things you should have.”
“What kind of things?”
Her expression turned soft. “Some of your father’s things. They’re meant for you. Just take the box. You can look through them when you’re feeling better.”
Meant for me? I doubted it. Few things were. “Sure. I can do that.”
Sunny sat in the chair next to me doing everything she could to not look miserable. I didn’t feel much better but hid it better. That isn’t to say I’m good at that, but ponies are used to me looking blank. As long as I wasn’t shouting or throwing my helmet, I was fine.
Sunny, on the other hoof, was always happy, so when she didn’t look happy, it read as ‘off’, even if she looked as blank as me.
We’d been summoned to Vice Colonel Glamour’s office with little notice. Glamour had been Shining Armor’s executive officer. She was now in command of the House Guards, the Palace Guard, and the City Guard. Despite that, command hadn’t awarded her the title of Captain of the Canterlot Guard and they’d put a lot of subordinate commanders like Major Measure in place to decentralize the role.
It wasn’t so much that they didn’t have faith in her specifically. They just didn’t think anypony could do what Shining Armor had.
“Do you think we’re going to be relieved?” Sunny asked suddenly.
It was a valid question. Any of my night time activities could get me relieved of duty. I’d stretched my mandate to the extreme and created a potential incident between Equestria and Sudramoar. On the other hoof, Sunny had been slipping, especially since the night on the tower, but I doubted anypony other than me would notice.
“I think you’re fine,” I replied.
“It isn’t like her to send for us on short notice.”
“That is true, but I still think you’re fine.”
Sunny half smiled and teased, “You said ‘beautiful’ the other night.”
I rolled my eyes. “You know what I mean.”
“Just trying to liven our spirits.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry. I’m in a mood.”
“You’re always in a mood,” she muttered and fell back to a blank expression. “Let’s just leave and go dancing.”
My brow arched. “Well, then we’d be relieved for sure.” That was assuming the princess’s pet stallion could even be relieved. I snorted as irritation surged within me and I stood up. There was only one way to find out. “Actually, why not? I might as well enjoy myself before they take my bar. Let’s go.”
“Wait, what?” Sunny stood up with me. “Seriously?”
Before I could answer, the door to Vice Colonel Glamour’s office opened. “Lieutenant Day, Lieutenant Knight. Come in, please.”
I started to follow behind the vice colonel, but Sunny set a hoof on my chest to stop me. “Were you really going to leave?”
“You’ll never know,” I replied before heading into the office.
Sunny glared and followed along with me.
“Have a seat, you two,” Vice Colonel Glamour said as she moved back behind her desk.
It occurred to me that I’d never actually been in her office. She hadn’t taken Shining Armor’s space. That still remained vacant.
Glamour’s office was larger than mine and the entire back wall was one big window that looked out into the city. The desk was not one of the generic ones the Guard issued, either. It was custom built and stained in a dark color. The rest of her furniture matched.
On the side walls, she had open shelving that were all filled with personal effects and awards. Most of them were gold, which seemed appropriate for a pony named Glamour.
I settled into the chair and tried to get a read on the vice colonel. She didn’t seem upset or spun up. In fact, she seemed pretty even.
Like many Canterlot unicorns, Glamour was somewhat petite when compared to a pegasus like myself. Her coat was a rich cream color and her mane was a mix of subtle pink and white. Usually she kept it up in a ponytail and it wasn’t uncommon to see her without her helmet.
I also rarely saw her work out at the gym, because that was never her focus. Glamour was not a swordspony. She’d advanced through her superior intellect, dedication to her duty, and extreme talent for martial magic. I’d never seen it, but there were many rumors about that last part. Scary rumors about hugely destructive spells.
Sunny eased in next to me. “We come when we’re called, ma’am. What can we do for you?”
“I’m certain you’ve noticed that your company commander’s post has been vacant for a while.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Sunny said. I bobbed my head in agreement.
“And that didn’t really seem to make any difference to you two. You both had a turn running the whole palace and did it well. Sunny, you shouldered that burden for a long time and things kept going. I’m proud of you.”
Sunny didn’t outwardly react. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“No thanks are due,” she replied. “Back to your company. We’re not going to fill that post.”
They weren’t going to fill it? That didn’t make any sense. Unless… No. Seriously, no. Not after what I just found out.
“Ma’am? What about Lieutenant Rook?” I asked pointedly.
Vice Colonel Glamour smiled at me. “Ever the loyal guard. Astute, too. Russet is going to need to find a new post. I’ll see to it personally that he is placed, but I’m afraid there isn’t going to be a company command anymore. It was an unnecessary level of bureaucracy.”
Sunny looked over at me. “Ma’am, who would we report to, then?”
“Me, just like you previously reported to Colonel Armor. Not that I really expect you to need me for anything other than your pony resources responsibilities. You’ll continue to take your direction directly from the princesses you protect. There is little sense in having Princess Celestia task me to task you. We all know she goes directly to you anyway.”
She then turned to me. “And you. I don’t even know about a quarter of the things you do. Princess Luna is always tightlipped about what she asks for or where you are… or where she is, for that matter. All I know is she is thrilled with you and the section you’ve built. If you want to keep going out and discovering ancient pony settlements, you do that.”
The vice colonel turned to look out her window. “Major Measure’s reports on you two were laughably empty, so why pretend anymore? So long as the princesses are happy, I am happy. Obviously, all promotions and such need to go through Command, but it is time to face facts and simplify the workflow. Which brings me to my next point.” She looked over her shoulder. “Sunny.”
Sunny stiffened in her chair. “Yes, ma’am?”
“Your name is going to be on the selection list. We were in a crisis, and you stepped in and handled it. You kept your normal level of excellence for your section and you also ran the palace. Well done.”
“Thank you, ma’am. I uh… I don’t really want to leave my unit, though, so if you could maybe take my name off the list?”
I blinked and looked over at Sunny in surprise. I understood her reasoning, but she’d more than earned the promotion.
“Don’t be concerned. Captains have led sections before, usually as a punishment, but I doubt anypony would see it that way. Not in the House Guard. You’ll keep your unit. Congratulations.”
Sunny visibly relaxed. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“And Silent Knight, I’d have put you on there, too, if you’d completed your captain’s training. As far as I can tell, you haven’t even registered for it.”
I shook my head. “I haven’t, ma’am. I didn’t want to be promoted out of my unit.” That, and who had time for it? How had Sunny managed to go?
“Well, that is no longer a concern, so I expect you to do it. I realize some commanders might sign off on a promotion without it, but I won’t. Some bureaucracy exists for a good reason. Take the classes or remain a lieutenant.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied.
“That is all then. I’m glad to have you both here. You’re dismissed.”
We stood together and then walked out. “Congratulations, Sunny,” I said softly once we were far enough down the hall.
“Meh,” she replied.
Sunny bumped her shoulder to mine. “Let’s go have that dance now, alright?”
“Okay, but in your office with the door closed.”
She snorted. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were making a pass at me.”
“But you know me better.”
“I’d like to,” she replied, wiggling her ears. The words were from the Sunny I knew, which made me smile… briefly. The tone wasn’t the same, though. It was new Sunny’s tone.
“Crystal would not approve.”
“Well, I’m bigger than her. What is she going to do?”
I almost made a crack about Azurite but the last time I’d done that it had soured my partner’s mood, so I shrugged. “She has this friend who’s pretty scrappy. Maybe together they could do something.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “And you’d let that happen?”
“I’m smart enough to know not to get between mares when they’re fighting. That’s how ponies get killed.”
“Oh, so you’re not as dumb as you look.”
I didn’t answer that. I didn’t want to think too much about how dumb I really was. Instead, I just smiled at her, then parted ways at the first cross-section of halls to head back to my office.
It was finally time to send a letter. I knew it was a mistake as I got out the pen and paper, but it had to be written. I had to do this. I couldn’t allow Shining Armor to offer me a position I didn’t deserve.
Thankfully, Glamour had unwittingly given me the perfect opportunity.
To Col. Shining Armor, Crystal Empire Province Garrison, commanding
From Lt. Silent Knight, Princess Luna’s House Guard, commanding
I have given your offer a lot of thought over the last few weeks. It truly is a generous one that tempted me. At this time, as much as it pains me to write, I don’t believe I am ready to move away from my current command and you deserve an officer that is.
Please accept my deepest gratitude for the offer and know that while this may not be the time, if another position opens in the future, I would truly consider it if offered. I very much hope to serve with you again one day.
In the meantime, there is some growth left here for me and, as you know, I am attached to Princess Luna. And, as I’m sure you’re also aware, she is very attached to me. It is not yet the time to separate myself from her, even if that isn’t the best thing for my career.
If I might be so bold, I would like to recommend Russet Rook for this position. He will be completing ALS soon and is more than a capable officer. Canterlot Command is not going to persist with the Unified House Guard. We will be returning to the original organization that existed prior to your reassignment.
Russet is going to come home and find out he has been displaced completely. That just isn’t right in my opinion. He’ll need a good position to fall back on and I can think of none better. He is a good officer and my career advanced to the detriment of his. Please consider him.
If, by any chance, you happen to be near Canterlot soon I would appreciate it if you visited. I’m struggling with some things and I think the clarity of an outside view would be beneficial.
I sighed as I folded the letter up and slipped it into the envelope. Russet genuinely deserved a chance after being ousted for me. This would be my opportunity to square our books.
At least that would be something good to come out of all of this.